Every year, Platonov Art Festival offers some novelties. This year, Mikhail Bychkov and the organisers of the event paid special attention to the theatre and presented it in all its diversity: drama, puppet shows, opera, ballet, street theatre, and performance art.
Traditionally, the festival theatre programme is comprised of two parts: “global”, which reflects the world tendencies and “Platonov”, which includes onstage interpretations of works by the Voronezh genius. The shows were very different both in terms of approaches and the targeted audience. Ruslan Kudashov’s puppet show “Fro” (Brest puppet theatre) can be easily recommended for families. The story of Frosya’s separation from her husband who “has gone to build communism or something else” is serene and, probably, a bit too sentimental for Platonov.
Whereas “The Epifan Locks” by Krzysztof Rekowski (the title of the show is “Russian contract”, Dramatic Theatre of Warsaw) received an absolutely new interpretation. At first sight, it seems to be an old-fashioned literature-centred production, in which the director sticks to the linear plot and the actors perform characters. However, the story of an English engineer who was commissioned by Peter I to build a canal in the the depth of Russia, was presented with a typical for Polish theatre “on the verge of nervous breakdown” approach.
To some degree, it can be relevant in relation to Platonov’s works. However, if it does not use a precise array of tools, such an approach can oversimplify the work. On the other hand, “the nervous breakdown” was brilliantly applied by the British actor, Orlando James, who played king Leontes in Declan Donnellan’s “Winter Tale”. The actor led the Shakespearean character from ungrounded fit of jealousy to the irreversible self-destruction and the destruction of the world around him.
Yevgeny Arye’s “King David Report” (Gesher Theatre, Israel) is a charming, witty, and amusing production, which do not diminish the seriousness of the questions raised. The main character is a young historian who was commissioned by king Solomon to write the biography of his father, David. The historian uses a video camera to record the evidence from witnesses, who present David either as the one chosen by God and a wise ruler or a power-seeking rake. The author subtly links the myths with the era of the Internet, in that they provide a raft of information and still does not allow us to judge the events objectively.
Kornél Mundruczó’s “Imitation of Life” (Proton Theatre, Hungary), which was the most impressive event in the Drama section, presented an absolutely different story. Superficially, the play seems to be a social drama discussing problems of gipsies and other “insulted and humiliated”. The intentionally rough lines and a combination of onstage acting and video projections (the function of which is to create the atmosphere and to show dreams rather than to illustrate something) help Mundruczó escape any accentuation.
The range of musical events was also impressive. Legendary Netherlands Dance Theater presented its young dancers who performed a number of one-act ballets (including the lead by Hans van Manen). The audience was mesmerised by the elegance and emotionality of the movements. Emiliano Pellizzari, on the contrary, mocked the mannered performances of the ancient court theatre in his “Aria” production.
The festival offered a novelty – directed play readings. The event included texts by authors from Belarus which differed in their level but had one thing in common: All their characters were shown against their provincial environment. It echoes Chekhov’s “To Moscow, to Moscow!” (in some plays it could be London or Spain instead).
During one of the discussions, a spectator from Voronezh said that he can well understand the eagerness of the characters to leave their homeland. However, the Platonov festival proved once again that provincialism is not a geographical phenomenon and that Voronezh has a very promising future.
Photo: Press service of the Platonov festival
Information for this article was provided by the following websites: http://iz.ru/607075/vii-platonovskii-festival-porazil-raznoobraziem-teatra